Friday, October 3, 2014

Sweet Valley High #33: Starting Over

Since it's been a few books since Sweet Valley had an underprivileged person, we get this book. Dana Larson, who we all know is the lead singer of The Droids, has an unknown cousin named Sally coming for a visit. Sally was just a little kid when her mom up and left her, and the Larsons were nice enough to let her float around in foster homes for 10+ years before deciding, hey, we should let her come stay with us.

Dana is excited at the idea of having a new sister, but her brother Jeremy could care less. His parents made him give us his room next to Dana and gave him the entire attic, which has its own separate entrance. No teenage boy in history would ever turn down that room, but he mopes and whines like they're making him sleep in a tent in the yard.

Things don't go exactly the way that everyone planned. Sally is so worried about getting sent back that she tries to do what everyone wants her to do instead of what she wants. Dana pressure her into joining The Droids, and since she can't sing or play an instrument, she becomes their manager. Dana also takes her shopping and makes her buy a bunch of wild clothes when she usually dresses like Liz. Jeremy just pops up to be a nuisance and an ass.

Jessica doesn't care about Sally because she brought home a puppy. Some random guy at the football game was giving away Labrador Retrievers, and she wanted one. She convinces Elizabeth to help her take care of the puppy while their parents are away and hide it from them when they get back until she can convince them that they need a dog.

The first few days go pretty well, but all hell breaks loose when Ned and Alice get home. Ned hears the dog howling, and Jessica convinces him that it was her radio. She then hides the puppy in the basement and invites Lila over to see him. Turns out that the puppy chewed through a hose on the washing machine. She has to pay a repairman to come out and fix it and sneak the laundry to a neighbor's house.

They finally decide to name the dog Prince Albert, but when Jessica talks about getting a puppy, her parents balk. They think it's just a passing fad and that she'll forget about it within a few days. While taking him for a walk, the puppy slips his leash and runs away. The girls are heartbroken, and them and their friends search for days, but he's gone. No worries though. At the end of the book, Ned comes home with the same puppy, which he found at the pound and adopted for them.

Back to Sally. Jeremy's best friend Mark comes over and makes it clear that he likes her. Even though he invites her out with them and later asks her on a date, she turns him down because it would just annoy her cousin. Dana keeps pushing her to spend more time with her and less time with anyone else. She somehow gets really annoyed when her mom encourages her to encourage Sally to take the car out one day. She vents to Jerry about her.

When she does take the car, Sally winds up back at school and meets Liz. They talk about writing, and it turns out that she really wants to be a writer. Liz encourages her to join the staff, but when she gets home, Dana pitches a fit. Dana whines about how it will take away from The Droids and how if she cares more about having a social life than her cousin, it's fine. Sally immediately backs down and even turns Liz down when she calls to ask her about going shopping.

When Sally hears that her uncle went on a special trip to talk to his lawyer, she decides that he must be sending her back. She, Dana, and Jeremy take a trip together, and Jeremy decides to pick up some random hitchhikers on the street. Sally is somehow the only one that thinks this is a bad idea. The guys ask for a ride to Kelly's, Jeremy turns them down, and they decide to not only get a ride but also take his wallet and the girls.

Sally decides that she needs to do something big. She puts on this fake voice, tells them that Dana is a bore, and convinces them that the three of them can have more fun together. Jeremy basically ditches them and takes off, but then Dana realizes that Sally did it to protect them.

Jeremy runs to Mark's house where conveniently he's with John P and Ken Matthews. They all go back to the bar, confront the guys, get Sally back, and get their money back. Dana and Jeremy then both refer to her as their sister, which makes Sally cry. The only problem is that she's getting sent back to the foster system.

When they get home, the adults are waiting for them with some important news. Dana and Jeremy try to butt in, their dad tries to shut them up, and Sally apologizes for things not working out. They then reveal that the reason he met with his lawyer was to confirm the paperwork to adopt Sally. She's now part of the family and a Larson...again.

*Lila is kind of cute in this book. She turns up her nose at Prince Albert because he's not a purebred. As soon as she touches him, her heart melts.

*She also agrees to drive around town looking for him when he gets loose.

*Proof that Jeffrey is the only character in these books that has any sense. He gets snippy about Jessica and how she always drags her twin into some crazy scheme. Of course he then backtracks when Liz whines about how she's her sister.

*Mr. Larson flies to San Francisco to meet with his attorney and flies back later the same day. What, are there not family law attorneys in Sweet Valley? I'm surprised he didn't just call Ned like everyone else does.

*Enid cancels plans with Liz because a friend asked her to go to a formal garden party. Her friend promised there would be cute guys there, and Liz thinks it's cool because Enid is apparently still hurting over the whole George thing.

*Seriously, the Larson family is messed up. Dana and Sally played together as girls, but they haven't seen each other since she went into foster care. When she reaches her teen years, they suddenly decide that they should adopt her? Where the hell were they the last 10 years?

*Dana is super protective of Sally because she doesn't want people to know about her past. Yeah, I can see that. Why would you want your friends to know that you basically ignored a member of your family for a decade?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Fear Street Fear Park #1: The First Scream


Part One: 1935

Meghan Fairwood is totes annoyed yo. She gets blue ink all over her white shirt, and she doesn't want to complain to her dad because he just paid a whole $4 for that pen and he's super busy with his new job. She's also a little annoyed because her boyfriend Richard is something of a jerk but everyone loves him because he's the star of the baseball team, which is just about ready to win the big state championship.

While walking down the hall, she runs into Robin Fear. They talk about the movies for awhile and do a little flirting before Richard interrupts them. After using Robin's tie to wipe his face, demanding that Meghan go out with him that night, and then skipping down the hall, we realize that he really is a dick.

This is all on Robin's mind when he walks down Fear Street and cuts through the woods to his house. Pretty much the second he walks through the door, he spies his dad floating on his back in the middle of a thick purple smoke. That makes him think about how his mom died when he was four and how his dad is obsessed with the occult books that he keeps scattered around his office. His dad later comes in to check on him and makes it clear that Robin isn't supposed to know about his crazy side.

Two men randomly show up on their doorstep. One announces that he's Mr. Bradley, aka Richard's dad, and he must be a dick too, because he asks if they go to school together then sniffs about how his son never mentioned Robin before. They talk about how they just got back from a visit to Coney Island and decided to build an amusement park in Shadyside. They already have the money, but now they need the land. Mr. Fear flips out like Fears are known to do, claiming that the land always belonged to his family and always will. Mr. Bradley suddenly starts coughing and grabs his throat like someone tried to strangle him. Robin uses this as an excuse to jump out of the shadows and shout for his dad to stop.

The next day, Nicholas warns Robin from taking walks in the woods by himself. When he decides to go anyway, his father agrees to go with him. They come across Mr. Bradley (Jack) in the woods. Robin thinks he aims a gun at them, but he really has a surveying tool. He lets them know that they petitioned the city council to take back a portion of his woods for the amusement park. I guess even back in the 1930s, the government could just randomly steal land.

Robin then takes a walk by himself and comes across Meghan in the woods. She tells him that she loves how peaceful things are and that she forgot that the FEAR WOODS belong to the FEAR FAMILY. When they get closer to his house, she freaks out a little and makes it clear that she doesn't want to go inside. She gets something in her eyes, and while helping her get it out, Richard jumps out of the woods. He threatens to beat him up and shouts that he saw them kissing. After she calms him down, he laughs it off and says he was just playing before they walk off into the sunset together.

Robin walks in on his dad laying dead on the floor the following morning. His dad wakes up with a weird purple mist all around him. As they talk, the mist grows and becomes darker. They both see a female form in the smoke. Nicholas says that it must be his dead wife and begs Ruth to come closer as he yells about how he's tried to get her back for so many years. Robin keeps trying to say his mom is dead, but the figure grows stronger. Just as she starts to step forward, he passes out and wakes up his bed, thinking that it was all a dream.

Since the Fears owning the woods that bare their name mean nothing, the city council votes to just take 100 acres for the amusement park. Jack and his men go out to measure the land and determine where to place the park. One of his men, Kevin, suddenly starts screaming, and they find that he somehow nailed a wood stake through his foot. Jack agrees to stay behind and finish the job while they rush him to the hospital, only to run into a massive insect hive that seemingly takes him over.

Then we cut to Meghan in the woods by herself. Though she's waiting for Richard, she can't stop thinking about Robin. Not only is he rich and cute, but he actually seems to give a damn about her unlike her boyfriend. She feels bad about thinking that she should dump him for another guy but less so when he gets there super late with a lame excuse about his coach keeping the team there late.

As they go deeper into the woods, Richard sees something. He thinks it's a deer but when they get closer, they see that it's actually a human skeleton. A closer look reveals that it's not entirely a skeleton. It's holding a tape measure in one hand and still has all its facial skin. Turns out that it's Jack, Richard's dad!

Part Two: Still 1935

It's been a few weeks or so after Jack's death. Robin works up the nerve to ask his dad if he did it. Nicholas says that he wasn't happy with having his land taken away but that he respects the law and had respect for Jack, so he would never do something like that. Robin, who clearly heard multiple voices and heard a woman talking, asks about the voices, and Nicholas laughs it off, saying that he was there all alone.

Meghan takes this opportunity to hit on Robin. They end up taking a walk together, which ends with them kissing. Richard jumps out of the shadows and explodes that he's mourning his father while she's gallivanting around town. He clearly has a point, but all his outburst does is make Meghan end their relationship. He calls to apologize, she won't talk to him, he comes by her house to apologize, and she forgives him but ends things anyway.

Robin asks her to meet him at the local soda shop after school. She can't wait to go out on their first real date, but he just wants to whine and complain about his dad and how his dad probably killed her ex-boyfriend's father. Boring. A few weeks after that, Richard comes to her. The city council decided to go forward with the park plans, and they need to hire a bunch of teenagers to remove all the stumps in the woods. They'll make a whopping $1 per day, which will let her help her family a lot.

Robin escapes from under his dad and shows up for the first day of work. Since chopping stumps is apparently the 1930's version of dinner and a movie, they work on a stump together. Richard shows up in a furious rage and when he sees them, he attacks Robin with an ax. Robin avoids his whacks, and another guy ends up sticking an ax through Richard's back and killing him. All the other teens go crazy and start attacking each other with axes. Robin tells Meghan to run and get the police while he runs home. When he sees his dad, he tells him that everything went exactly to their plans.

Part Three: Present Day

Dierdre Bradly, obviously a relation to the original Bradley family, is visiting Fear Park where her boyfriend Paul works. Her dad finally opened the park 60+ years after work stopped when those kids went crazy and killed each other. Paul convinces her to ride this roller coaster called the Inferno, something goes wrong, and it hurtles into a fiery blaze. No worries though, it was just part of the ride.

After they get off, Dierdre tells him that she has plans but they can meet up later at the Hatchet Show. Apparently kids killing each other is super entertaining, and her dad decided to host a whole show about it, and Paul is a member of that show. Before he can react, she runs off on her own. When she sees a cute guy named Rob, she throws herself at him and dry humps his leg. Eh, they just make out, but it's still rude to make out with someone else when you have a boyfriend.

She juggles the two guys for awhile before stopping by to see her dad, who is giving an interview about opening up the park. He takes the reporters to the Hatchet Show, which is just about ready to begin. Dee sees Robin in the crowd and watches as a weird purple mist falls over the actors. Something hits Paul in the side and he hits the ground and stops moving. She rushes to his side, but he moans and says he got a cramp in his side. They kiss and she notices Rob watching them with a scowl on his face.

A few days later, Rob tries to set up a date with her, but she claims that she already had plans with Paul. Rob ignores her comments and tells her that he'll see her later anyway. She goes to the park and finds the ferris wheel, which Paul runs, is spinning on its own. When she looks closer, she finds his head detached from his body. Luckily, Robin is right there to comfort her.

Since this is a Fear Street book, it's now two weeks later and she's pretty much over her boyfriend's death. I guess since she was cheating on him, it's okay that he's gone. Her dad announces that after a police investigation, the police said he could open back up again in two weeks. She introduces him to her friend Rob. Rob introduces himself by his full name, Robin Fear, and claims he's some distant cousin. The book ends with his eyes getting a little too big as he claims that he's waited a long time to run the ferris wheel.